The SS M. E. Comerford was a Liberty ship built at J.A. Jones Construction, Brunswick, Georgia, during World War II. She was named after Michael Comerford, the owner of Comerford Theatres, a chain of some of the first movie theaters in Pennsylvania and New York. The ship was laid down on 10 November 1944, under a Maritime Commission contract, and launched on 2 December 1944. The Navy used asbestos in almost every part of its vessels because it was affordable, had high tensile strength and was highly resistant to heat and corrosion. Boiler rooms, navigation rooms, engineering spaces, mess halls, sleeping areas and other common areas aboard these ships contained asbestos. Thus, it was understood the serious health risks of asbestos exposure. Navy veterans who served aboard ships may first begin to notice a problem 20 to 50 years after being exposed to asbestos, leaving them unaware of their condition until symptoms become noticeable.